August 15, 2022

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D-backs looking to 'reset' after series opener

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NEW YORK — A change in scenery didn’t help wake up the slumbering D-backs bats as they fell to the Mets, 10-3, in front of a sellout crowd at Citi Field.

The D-backs completed their opening homestand with a 2-4 record and came into New York hitting .140 as a team.

Following a 3-for-29 performance against starter Chris Bassitt and a trio of Mets relievers, that average fell to .135 and has D-backs manager Torey Lovullo and his coaching staff searching for answers.

“It’s been pretty terrible,” outfielder Pavin Smith said. “I’m not gonna lie. Pretty much can’t get any momentum going. We get guys on base and it seems like everybody wants to try to get the big hit and that makes it worse. So we just gotta keep grinding, keep chugging away, each individual, to try to get better and try not to press as much.”

The longer an offensive slump lasts, the harder it is for players to not try to do too much. That leaves them vulnerable to swinging at pitches outside the strike zone, or taking pitches they should be swinging at.

“Everyone wants to do it,” Smith said of coming through with men on base. “They might swing out of the zone or miss the pitch they could have hit. I think that’s what I’m doing a little bit, taking the one I should have swung at. That’s definitely frustrating. Just trying to get back to a more aggressive mentality and trust myself to take it when it’s not in the zone.”

Of the nine hitters in Arizona’s starting lineup Friday, just one, Seth Beer, is hitting above .200.

Starting catcher Carson Kelly was given Friday off despite the team having an off-day Thursday, because Lovullo said he wanted to give him a chance to “reset.”

“You guys are watching the same game I am,” Lovullo said of Kelly. “And there’ve been some fundamental mistakes and I feel like there’ve been some mental mistakes and he’s a very good catcher. He’s a very good baseball player. So I just want to give him a chance to hit the reset button early.”

As he looks up and down his lineup, might Lovullo consider doing the same for some of his other struggling hitters?

“We’re going to identify the guys that might need a little bit of a mental blow,” Lovullo said. “This is a grind right now. We’re in the middle of a grind. We’ve got to embrace it. We’ve got to love it. For us to do our best as teachers we’ve got to figure out how to coach them up and get them through that. Sometimes taking them off their feet is the best way.”

In the meantime, the D-backs will take comfort in a couple of things.

First, they continue to have good at-bats in terms of working counts and drawing walks. They drew another five walks Friday, giving them 38 through seven games.

And second, it is still early in the season, something that veteran right-hander Zach Davies, who went 4 1/3 innings in Friday’s game, was quick to point out.

“There’s a lot of season left,” Davies said. “There’s 155 games or whatever it is left, so there’s no panic, at least on my side. There’s not a lot of panic in the clubhouse based off of what I’ve seen. So it’s not anything to be scared about. It’ll turn around. It’s baseball. It’s a long season and as much as I can offer glimpses of what I’ve seen in the past to let guys know that it gets better, [I will].”

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